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  • Sarah Waara

From helped to helper: How one person is paying it forward



The phrase ‘pay it forward’ is often shared to describe what it means to give back and help others as they have helped you. One donor to Ascension Wisconsin Foundation is doing just that. 


In 2015, the young female thought she was sick with the flu. Leaning toward her strength and resilience, she decided to rest, take vitamin C and wait out the sickness. However, her symptoms quickly escalated in a matter of days. 


In less than two weeks she lost more than 20 pounds and was still ill. Soon, her heart began to race every time she stood up. As her health continued to decline, she gave in and went to the emergency department at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee. 


“I knew something wasn’t right because I was physically fit and had very strong cardiovascular health,” she said. “The staff was very attentive and kindly helped to stabilize my heart rate, give me fluids and write a prescription for antibiotics.”


While all of this was going on, she only had a few days to pack her car and make the more than 1,000-mile journey to Texas as she was set to begin school at the SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary near Dallas. 


As a young college student preparing for a big move, she didn’t have health insurance and was saving every penny she had to put toward her education. Knowing this, individuals close to her and a flexible payment plan allowed for her to pay the $2,501.54 healthcare bill.


Today the anonymous donor is healthy, finishing her degree and plans to establish a career in church work once she receives her diploma. To pay it forward, she has been making gifts to Ascension Wisconsin Foundation whenever possible as a way to say ‘thank you’ and help others that need support like she once did. 


“I believe in charitable programs because I know people can run into unplanned circumstances and need help to get through them,” she said. “I was inspired to pay it forward so that the next person in need has access to care like I once needed.”


Donor support to Ascension Wisconsin Foundation makes it possible for every patient to receive the high-quality care that they deserve, regardless of the ability to pay. Thank you for making this possible.


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